Health Care Providers Workshop Caregiver Workforce Issues

Home health care providers continually cite a lack of caregivers as their biggest challenge. As demographics shift toward an older population, the caregiver shortage is likely to put even more pressure on providers.

At the same time, the caregiver workforce continues to adapt to meet the needs of aging Americans, according to a report on the National Academies’ Forum on Aging, Disability and Independence, held in Washington, D.C. in June 2016. The forum was held by the Health and Medicine Vision and the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Improving Employment Prospects

To keep up with demand, providers and organizations are seeking out the best ways to solve the caregiver shortage. Turnover in the home care industry is high, at a reported range between 50% and 60%. For providers, this high rate translates to a near-constant recruiting effort.

Programs that provide career development and more training can help reduce turnover and attract more caregivers to the space, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s report. One such program, Career Gear Up at the New York’s Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, has reduced turnover by 16% among workers that go through training. The program is based on a University of Minnesota report that found that direct support to professionals felt more valued and skillful when their organizations supported training and mentoring, according to the report.

Monetary rewards have also been floated as a solution to reducing caregiver turnover. Incentives that target clinical outcomes may better engage caregivers, for instance. One of the nation’s top ten largest home health providers, Bayada Home Health Care, has been cited as an example of such incentive programs.

“Bayada piloted a model that provided a monetary reward based on multifaceted outcomes, such as reduced hospitalizations and improved patient satisfaction, as one approach for increasing efficiency and improving retention in the face of Medicare reimbursement costs,” the report reads.

It is also thought that workforce retention and continuity of care can lead to higher productivity related to clinical outcomes, including Bayada’s approach.

Person-Centered Solution  

Another method to cultivate a more engaged workforce is to create a more engaged community through person-centered care, according to the report.

Person-centered care, which focuses on the desires and choices of how a patient and their family want to receive care, also better engages the caregiver as part of the care plan and connects the process to community resources, according to Teresa Less of the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, as cited in the report.

Shifting the health care system away from fragmentation and toward interconnectedness would lead to better training, Lee posited. Shifting payments toward outcomes that include patient needs, instead of service, is one effective method.

Written by Amy Baxter